Last summer, I really got to know the local insects. It turns out that we have more varieties of insects in Wisconsin than I was aware of. After taking notice of a few different bugs, I decided it would be fun to photograph everything that crawled by. Taking the following photos and studying them turned out to be a great learning experience for me!
Closely viewing these insects is going to be a little like watching the movie Them! So if you're at all sensitive to creepy crawlies, especially spiders, you might want to close out of this page.
One insect I learned a lot about was the firefly. Believe it or not, I didn't know what they looked like in the daylight until last summer. I told some of my friends (who are from more rural areas) about my discovery and they thought it was funny. I guess this was common knowledge for them! For my part, I was glad to know what those "funny looking beetles" were on my plants.
Check out his feet! They look like little hands.
If you look closely, you can see some yellow near this firefly's butt area. I assume that's what we see light up.
I also learned that if I stood still in the dark of night and flashed my camera, lots of fireflies would approach me. It was a magical experience to be surrounded by these little glowing bugs in an otherwise dark space. I learned later that the fireflies interpret glowing as a mating signal. So I guess I came across as a giant bug giving them the wrong idea!
Another new bug I learned about was the cicada. I first got to know these guys when I found one of their shells. As anyone who's seen a cicada knows, they're quite large. At first I thought the shell was a giant bug, then I saw the slit where the cicada had emerged.
Yeah, that's its shell! To give you an idea of how large a cicada is, I flipped the shell onto a tissue and placed a quarter next to it.
Do you see the slit in the back area? That's where he came out of his little cicada coat.
I later came across a cicada who was in the process of shedding his shell! The cicada is sort of sitting on the shell he just emerged from in this picture. I guess I'm the first thing he saw in his new form. What lucky timing!
They really are beautiful and not at all dangerous. Look at these wings!
After my cicada and firefly experiences, I was ready to photograph more local insects. I was familiar with all of the next ones already, but it was interesting to see them up close. There are so many beautiful details that you might not have noticed. We're used to brushing these things away or swatting at them, but you'll actually be able to observe them in these photos.
This one is the Japanese Beetle. They came to Wisconsin in droves last year and tore through many people's rose gardens. They're nasty bugs who tear holes through rose petals and leaves. They're beautiful in their way but very destructive. For the many I saw last year, I haven't seen one this summer! My guess is that it's been too dry for them.
If you look closely, you can see the little hairs on this one's legs. I suggest clicking on these photos to enlarge them, if you can take it!
I know this one is just a boring old ant, but it's still interesting to see it up close.
This dragonfly is a little more innocent looking. He nearly blends into the environment with his iridescent wings.
Next we have a closeup view of a hornet who was safely on the other side of a window. I never realized that their legs have stripes on them. Then again, I never wanted to study a hornet closely. I'm usually just hoping not to get stung.
These I always thought were cute, but I've been told that Chiggers can bite and hurt a person pretty badly.
I know that fuzzy white caterpillars are lethal to plants, but aren't they cute and soft looking? Check out those little legs!
This grasshopper really blended in to the sand and wood around him. Looking closer, I saw a cool zigzag type pattern on his hind legs.
I haven't a clue about the following insects. Does anyone know what these are?
I found this next one to be the ickiest of the mystery insects. I was just sitting outside minding my own business, and this thing came trotting along.
I usually have my camera with me, so I was ready to photograph it. This bug was incredibly small, so I was surprised to see it in detail after loading this photo on my computer. It's just so weird! I thought it might be some kind of larvae, but it's walking.
This next one was really tiny and creepy. Do you think this might be a tick? That's my best guess so far. It looks similar to the tick photos I've seen online. As I remember, it was hopping around.
After last summer, I started referring to myself as "The Insect Paparazzi". Luckily, every little critter I photographed was well behaved and I wasn't stung or bitten while getting close to them. I feel especially lucky if the above photo is of a tick.
Speaking of semi-creepy things in nature, I observed something amazing yesterday and I just had to share it. Some of my snapdragons have gone to seed and here's what was left of them:
Snapdragon skulls! Look at these expressions. Some of them even have noses. For those who aren't familiar with Snapdragons, here's what their flowers look like:
If you managed to survive looking through all these creepy insect photos and flower skeletons, you deserve a treat! So here's a little music to go with the title of this post:
...and here's a little silliness to go with your music:
Update as of July 18! I just took a photo of this little guy today as he was lounging on a leaf. I took about ten photos of him and he didn't even seem afraid of the camera! He was maybe an inch long at largest. Do you guys think this might be a butterfly? He had a really fuzzy body.